Police encourage drivers to stay alert as students return to school

As local students get ready to return to school, police are encouraging people to exercise caution while driving. In addition to keeping an eye out for kids crossing the street, drivers also need to watch for buses making stops to pick up or drop off kids. (Pioneer file photo)

MECOSTA COUNTY — As kids in crosswalks and school buses once again become a common sight in Mecosta County, local police are encouraging people to stay alert while driving.

“It’s time to go back to school, so drivers need to be very cautious in the morning when school is starting and in the afternoon when students are going home,” said Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell.

Big Rapids Department of Public Safety School Liaison Officer Lorne Juday said parents and students should familiarize themselves with traffic flow signs around area schools before the start of classes, to help make the first day back go smoother.

He added it also is important for kids to understand how to use crosswalks if they will be walking to and from school.

“Parents should teach their kids how to safely cross the street, and also have them wear bright clothing,” Juday said.

Danielle Haynes, deputy director of the police division at the BRDPS, added firefighters with the department will be available most days to help children cross safely to the Big Rapids Middle School in the morning.

“We are opening up our front parking lot at the DPS for parents who want to use those parking lots to drop off their students,” she said. “The only time we won’t be there is in extreme emergency situations.”

Juday said in addition to keeping an eye out for kids crossing the street, drivers also need to be cautious of buses stopping to pick kids up and drop them off.

“The law requires vehicles stop at least 20 feet from a bus when the red lights are flashing, and that includes oncoming traffic,” he said.

Along with area youngsters headed back to school, Ferris State University will begin classes on Monday, which means several thousand students returning to Big Rapids.

“The influx of approximately 12,000 students in the city and Big Rapids Township means traffic flow is going to be significantly busier,” Purcell said.

He added it is important to slow down and allow congestion to clear, as well as keep an eye out for people making right- and left-hand turns on the main roads.

Juday noted the busiest times in traffic will be in the mornings, at lunch and in the evenings when students are getting out of class and people are leaving work.

“You don’t want to cause a crash or potentially hurt yourself or someone else,” Juday said.

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Posted by Taylor Fussman

Taylor is the cops and courts reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review newspapers. She can be reached at (231) 592-8362 or by email at tfussman@pioneergroup.com.

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